Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Vampire Diaries "Disturbing Behavior" Review

"Paranoia, paranoia, everyone is trying to get me" are words sung by Harvey Danger front man Sean Nelson in their 1998 smash-hit "Flagpole Sitta." The song's synonymous with the 1998 teen thriller Disturbing Behavior starring Katie Holmes. The film's about a community who changes the behaviors of their teenagers so they act more morally. TVD's fourth episode shares its title with the 1998 teen flick. The movie and the episode share similar themes--namely, nature and behavior. Brian Young's script is interested in exploring how one's behavior relates to one's nature.

The adults in the movie aren't different from the adults in Mystic Falls. The Founder's Council was always a way to police the vampires who infiltrated their insular community. The members of the council behaved similarly to the people who blindly punished African-Americans during the civil war era. TVD's never shied away from allegorical storytelling about the persecution of people of color or homosexuals. The genre essentially invites that kind of criticism, especially in The Vampire Diaries. The mission statement of the council's been complicated because Tyler Lockwood's a werewolf and Caroline Forbes is a vampire. "The Hybrid" showed what happens when someone tries to actively change someone's nature--it's painful and heartbreaking. Carol and Liz are willing to bend the rules of the council, and in turn their behavior, for the sake of their children. Alaric made them aware of this when he sought admittance into the council because the old ways expired and a broken system.

The reason Alaric delivers his impassioned argument for admittance into the council is about Damon Salvatore. Since the series began, he's been the wild card, the vampire who acts impulsively regardless of the consequences. Stefan kept him in check, which fooled the characters of Mystic Falls into thinking he changed. Actually, Elena's the one character who believed Damon changed only to watch him snap Alaric's neck so that he could march into Lockwood manor to murder Bill. She fielded questions from Bonnie and Caroline about her feelings towards Damon. Her girlfriends cautioned her not to believe Damon permanently changed himself. Elena wanted to believe it because Stefan burned her badly in Chicago. She's the walking wounded--it's pleasant to think Damon's the man she wants him to be. However, Damon's the punk rocker of Mystic Falls. The second a group of people try to control his behavior, he rebels. Damon's rebellion is a bit more extreme than dying a Mohawk haircut, smoking, and supporting an anarchist movement--his rebellion involves a body count.

Sean Nelson sings, "I had visions, I was in them/I was looking into the mirror/to see a little bit clearer/rottenness and evil in me" in the opening of "Flagpole Stitta." Ignore for a second the song's allusions to sexual desire and masturbation because these words reflect the complex Salvatore brother. Damon really behaves well throughout the first half of the episode. He assists Elena as she cooks chili for the Founder's party because he wants to be around in case the girl falls apart suddenly (as the Chicago break-up with Stefan's fresh). Alaric behaves like a protective older brother, warning him to keep his distance from Elena lest he read her body language incorrectly. Naturally, Damon doesn't respond well to someone telling him how to behave, and he won't respond well to anyone else who tells him how to behave. Bill set off the murder lust in him after he revealed his imperviousness to compulsion and threatened to 'out' Damon to the council ("How ironic," Damon remarked). Damon wanted to act, felt the need to get rid of the problem, but his need was met with rejection, so he snapped Alaric's neck and drained Bill's blood until Caroline interrupted to save her father's life. Later, Elena yelled that he couldn't continue behaving as he does, harming anyone who interferes with his plans because he's better than that. Damon whipped his head around and sharply reminded her that he's not Stefan.

"The Stefan of it all" really sets Damon off because his actions are always compared to his brother's. Damon, though, isn't the stoic or brooding hero. Stefan's the vampire who continues to protect Elena's life from miles and miles away in Chicago. Elena's potential affections for Damon are always weighed with how she feels for Stefan. Damon spent the entire summer tracking his brother in an attempt to save his soul, so he should be forgiven for acting out of frustration. The vamp aims to create his own identity and won't settle for anyone projecting their feelings of him as if they define him.

Stefan's memories haven't altered his behavior at all or his intentions to continue his protection of Elena from afar. The whereabouts of the necklace would've blown Elena's cover as a dead girl, so Stefan carefully maneuvered to keep the mystery a mystery. Katherine told Stefan she'd assist him but he preferred to work alone. Gloria located the necklace but opted against telling Klaus the details. Stefan tried to charm her into letting the thing die; however, the necklace belonged to the original witch and Gloria wanted it so much so that she tortured Stefan and learned the truth just before Katherine stabbed her in the neck with a knife. I'm unsure of Katherine's plans because she traveled to Mystic Falls, grabbed the necklace from Bonnie, and told Damon she needed him for a road trip. Meanwhile, Stefan tried to learn more about Rebekah and Klaus' pursuer. Rebekah immediately lost her trust in him because he decided to ask questions. Klaus knocked Stefan out and brought him back to Mystic Falls to figure out what he's been hiding all this time.

Meanwhile, Jeremy awoke to find Anna beside him. Anna exposited how she's been unable to communicate him the last few days. Jeremy reveals he dreamt about her, which means his sees the ghosts of his old girlfriends whenever he thinks about them. The arc's consistently vague about its purpose. Anna told Jeremy about the darkness that accompanies Vicki and Bonnie. Anna claims she's all alone in death, and she even cries when Jeremy tells Bonnie the truth about his resurrected life. I really have no idea where the arc's going. It'd be predictable if Jeremy and Bonnie needed to help Anna find peace in death. I hope the arc's about more than weird love quadrangle. Kevin Williamson's a brilliant, creative storyteller so I'm sure the ghosts arc will be worthwhile.

"Disturbing Behavior" is yet another great episode of Vampire Diaries. The third season's potentially the best of the three; however, there are miles to go before the narrative of the third season's complete. I'm enjoying every second of it. I suggest others give into the series and watch it. TVD's the best show on television.

Other Thoughts:

-I didn't want to ignore Caroline's behavior towards her father. She saved his life and opened herself up to him but he rejected her because of her nature. Bill claims he possesses the ability to change a vampire's nature. He told Damon that alcohol prevents him from compulsion. I'm reluctant to believe him. I look forward to learning more about Bill Forbes. Jack Coleman's been great in every scene.

-Brian Young wrote the episode. Wendey Stanzler directed it.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.